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Roles Of Male Characters In Mansfield Park English Literature Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: English Literature
Wordcount: 3772 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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Jane Austen, who lives between the later 18 century and the early 19 century, is a female writer in the England. Mansfield Park is one representative of her works, which is a long novel of the most mature thought and the most modern people. By analyzing and discussing two heroes-Edmund Bertram’s and Henry Crawford’s personalities, manners and conversation, it researches the reasons why author creates them and the significance of creation of them. In the end, the conclusion made is that two heroes have a rather important effect on heroine: one is her abecedarian; the other is set up by standing out heroine’s merits. One cannot be divided from the other, both two show together the heroine’s intelligence and merits.


1.1 Introduction about Author

Jane Austen was born on December 16, 1775, at the rectory in the Steventon, in Hampshire. Jane’s father, George, was an intelligent and sensitive man who encouraged Jane in her love of reading and writing, which pave a way for Jane’s career, as a famous English writer later. When she was a young girl, Jane was an avid reader, devouring the books in her father’s extensive library; such books provided material for the short satirical sketches she wrote as a girl. Along with her sister, Cassandra, young Jane was tutored by her parents and received a broader education than many women of her time. At the same time, Jane’s childhood was relatively happy and carefree, especially her fondness of attending balls and dancing. In addition, she also enjoyed long country walks and visiting her friends in Hampshire. The above can be reflected in Mansfield Park

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During Jane Austen’s whole life, with the release of Sense and Sensibility (1811), Pride and Prejudice (1813), Mansfield Park (1814) and Emma (1816), she achieved success as a published writer. In her later life, Northanger Abbey and Persuasion, both published posthumously in 1818, and began a third, which was eventually titled Sanditon, but died before completing it. Now, the world compare among her works. Although Pride and Prejudice is well-know in the world, someone still says that Mansfield Park is totally different from other works of Jane Austen, for this works is the most complex novel.

In 1801, the next four years were difficult for Jane, especially Jane’s father’s death in 1805. His passing left Jane and her family members in difficult financial straits and forced them to rely on others. In July, 1809, own to her brother’s relief–offering his mother and sisters a permanent home, she could write again after she was delighted to move back to her beloved countryside.

Unfortunately, in the winter of 1816, as she began her final novel, Sanditon, Jane contracted addisons disease, a tubercular disease of the kidneys. Her life made an end in the early hours of July 18, 1817.

Although she was never married in the whole her life, Jane’s novels offer some of literature’s most romantic stories. Jane’s brilliantly witty, elegantly structured satirical fiction marks the transition in English literature from 18th century neo-classicism to 19th century romanticism. She is remembered today as one of England’s greatest writers.


1.2 Introduction about background

1.2.1 The social background

A general knowledge of the social and cultural in which a novel sets is often important. Because most novels mirror the customs and values of a particular society, they often criticize it. Works of Jane Austen is not far from this method.

It is not difficult to find that most Jane Austen’s works set among the rural middle and upper classes who are landowners.

In Jane Austen’s time, none of the major characters can work on their own, for these moneyed classes live entirely on their income from rents and inheritances. Nevertheless, there are petty distinctions among the landed classes, determined by the amount of wealth possessed by the members. As a matter of fact, class distinctions at that time were very rigid.

The aristocracy who possesses land belonged to the highest rung of the social ladder, and all power was in their hands. Next in rank came the gentry. The new, prosperous industrialists and traders were gradually rising as a class, but had still not won the right to vote. The lowest in English society were the workers and laborers.

For the women at that time, life was largely restricted to the home and the family. And they seldom went out their home. As to the poor and the lower-class women, there was plenty of work at home and in the fields to let them be free from comfortable life.

But for the ladies of the landed upper-classes, life was one big round of dances, dinners, cards, and visits to friends and relatives. They were not required to do any household work. “Ladies,” thus, lived a life of ease and leisure, mainly concerned with society, children, and marriage. By the nineteenth century, the upper classes no longer arranged marriages. Instead, a girl was introduced to society (and eligible bachelors) at a reception hosted by a married woman who had herself been presented. Generally, a girl “came out” only after her elder sister was married.

During the nineteenth century in England, only the daughters of a few families of the upper classes had rights to be educated. In most cases, it was thought to be a waste of time to educate girls in those days. Rich and noble families engaged governesses for educating their daughters or sent them away to boarding school, while most women were self-educated at home. (Anonymous, 2007)

1.2.1The literary background

” Jane Austen’s works appeared on the English literary scene in early eighteen century. The author had worked on its realistic style and content for more than fifteen years, for she was a perfectionist in her approach to writing. Her first novel was unlike any of the hundreds of others written at the time, which were mainly Romantic (filled with emotion and passionate) or Gothic (filled with horror). Austen was the first novelist to portray realistic characters by using the direct method of telling a story in which dialogue and comment take an important place. She used the method to dissect the hypocrisy of individuals and the society in which they played their games of love and courtship.

At first, Austen’s literatures concentrated on character studies, where a person’s common sense (or lack of it) was developed in detail. The chosen setting was always limited to a small social group of the upper classes and composed of a few families. Family life was always central to her works. Her novels also portrayed traditional values and a belief in rationality, responsibility, and restraint. But she often viewed the human condition, with its many weaknesses, through humor, irony, and sarcasm, with her undesirable characters portrayed as ignorant, proud, or silly human beings, not evil villains. (Internet)

1.3 Introduction about this novel

In this works, the heroine, Fanny Price, is a young girl from a relatively poor family, brought up by her rich uncle and aunt, Sir Thomas and Lady Bertram, at Mansfield Park. She grows up with her four cousins, Tom Bertram, Edmund Bertram, Maria Bertram and Julia, but is always treated as inferior to them; only Edmund shows his real kindness. He is also the most virtuous of the siblings: Maria and Julia are vain and spoiled, while Tom is an irresponsible gambler. Over time, Fanny’s gratitude for Edmund’s kindness secretly grows into romantic love.

Someday, the arrival of the sister and brother – Henry Crawford and Mary Crawford, they disrupt the staid world of Mansfield, while Sir Tom leaves for one year to deal with his business. Gradually, Mary and Edmund begin to form an attachment, though Edmund knows her shortcoming: a lack of firm principle. At the same time, Henry plays with the affections of both Maria and Julia, despite Maria being already engaged to the dull, but very rich, Mr. Rushworth.

Faced with Tom and his friend’s Promotion of putting on Elizabeth Inchbald’s play Lovers’ Vows, Edmund and Fanny both initially oppose the plan, because they persist in Sir Thomas’s disapprobation and feel that the subject matter of the play is not appropriate. However, Edmund swayed at last, for he wants to play the part of Anhalt, the lover of the character played by Mary Crawford. As to Henry, it means that he has chance to flirt with Maria in the period of acting it. Sir Thomas arrives unexpectedly in the middle of a rehearsal, which ends the plan. Meantime, it is a turning point for Fanny; she more or less gets respect from this family.

Henry returns to Mansfield Park and decides to amuse himself by making Fanny fall in love with him. However, her genuine gentleness and kindness cause him to fall in love with her instead. When he proposes marriage, Fanny’s disgust at his improper flirtations with her cousins, as well as her love for Edmund, cause her to reject him. The rest don’t understand why she chooses such a decision. Sir Tomas decides to send her back to her poor family and hopes that she can think over Henry’s proposal. Although Henry still pursues her, she has never changed her mind. But from this script, Jane Austen means that if Henry can insist on his thought as usual, he will win her heart.

However, the scandal that Maria elopes with Henry has broken the dreams of two pairs of lovers: Edmund realizes he had idealized her as someone she is not and Henry is not deserved for Fanny to love him. In the end, Edmund realizes how important Fanny is to him, declares his love for her and they are married.

Literature review

Through research for data, it’s not difficult to find that all the journals or other data involved in Mansfield Park only analyze from the relationship between the theatricals lover’s Vow and plot (刘敏霞,2008) which this novel describes, the time and the space of it (刘媛,2008) and the morality about it (刘霞,2003). Meantime, involved in the male roles in Jane Austen’s works, many scholars only pay attention to the affection of father roles, commander roles written by Jane Austen. From above, there are not any papers about analysis of creation of male characters both at home and abroad. Confronted with the data, this paper will be developed around the topic On the Roles of the Male Characters.

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2.1 Studies at Home

From the data, of Jane Austen’s male characters, which Huang Min writes, only little describes the main characters involved in all of Jane Austen’s works and generalizes them only in a few lines. Another paper is called Jane Austen and males written by her, Huang Peizhen’s paper, writes how hero affects and perfects heroine. Morality Judgment in Mansfield Park, a paper depicts analysis of morality of female and male roles according to what Jane Austen called morality in her mind. From above, there is nothing involved in analysis of male characters.

2.2 Studies Abroad

Jane Austen– A beginner’s Guide (Rob Abbott, 2008) introduces about the social background where Jane Austen lives, her biography, the writing techniques she uses, the analysis of her works and so on. Learn Love, Gain Love-from the Emotional Intelligence of Jane Austen( Lawrence Henderson, 2006), the author of it summarizes ten love rules for youngsters from heroines or heroes of Jane Austen’s works and then gives suggestions to readers what they should do and what they should do not. A Memoir of Jane Austen (James Edward Austen-Leigh, 2002) is about family memories, the record of Jane Austen’s life shaped and limited by the loyalties, reserve, and affection of nieces and nephews recovering in old age the outlines of the young aunt they had each known. From above, it’s hard to find that anything about analysis of characteristics of male actors. As a result, this paper will be developed from this aspect.

Male Characters in Mansfield Park

3.1 Description of male characters in general.

In this novel, Edmund Bertram, Mr. Henry Crawford both play important roles in successfully creating a woman of Fanny Price. Now, introduce them respectively how their roles have an effect on heroine:

3.1.1 Edmund Bertram

He is the younger son of Sir Thomas and Lady Bertram; he is six years older than Fanny. He makes up his mind to be a clergyman, but later his dream was not respected by Miss Crawford to whom he is addicted. He alone among his family has any consideration for Fanny’s feelings, sharing her happiness and sorrow. As her protector and friend, he has a great deal of influence over her and helps her form her personalities. Until relatives of neighbor, Mr. Henry Crawford and Miss Mary come and disturb the peaceful and quiet Mansfield Park, Crawford Edmund becomes attracted to Miss Crawford, but her opinions on the scandal involving Mrs. Rushworth and Mr. Crawford mortify him, which totally does great damage to her image in his mind. He later realizes that Fanny is the person with whom he deserves to love and at last they are married.

3.1.2 Mr. Henry Crawford

He is brother of Mrs. Grant and Miss Crawford, a charming, extremely intelligent and eligible bachelor who plays with the emotions of Maria and Julia. This is observed by Fanny. Because of Maria’s marriage, he decides to make Fanny fall in love with him. However, instead, he falls in love with her. When Fanny is willing to give a chance to him by accepting his courtship after his arrival at her home, but he loses any chance forever when he and Maria run away together.

3.2 Analysis of personalities and manners

3.2.1 Edmund Bertram

Edmund Bertram was born in a rich family, but he is rather different from his brother and sisters. He is a kind, considerate, kind, careful and elegant man. Although Fanny is inferior to them, from a poor background, Edmund treats her as his biological sister. However, the arrival of Miss Mary Crawford, Edmund loses his correct judgments gradually and is cheated by her and her brother. Let us see how he changes what he believes step by step:

The first scene happens after Fanny and Edmund have dinner with Mary. They discuss about her appearance, behavior, and thoughts while they are going around the garden. From the conversation, it’s easy to see that Edmund is a wise, witty and elegant gentleman, with dark and piercing eyes , and he has will of his own. He knows that Mary is not as good as he dreams at table in her conversation for she has not any feeling of gratefulness to her uncle at all, even thought her uncle had raised her ever. But he tries his best to persuade Fanny not to have distaste to her because of her uncle remarriage. From this point, we can know that he does his best to protect her he love. Meantime, he has made a trap for him step by step following the plot.

When it comes to a job of a clergy Edmund will devote him to in the future, Mary disgusts it and feels boring and intolerable it. But Edmund only thinks that her thought is affected by her uncle. It seems that kind Edmund would like to own her flaws to her uncle. Opposite to Edmund, Fanny get cleverer and cleverer, she knows and understands what Mary is and never makes a mistake.

The third scene is about acting a play Lovers’ Vows. Although Edmund totally disapproves the suggestion of acting a play at first, for he sees that his father will look it as a serious moral failing-Maria have been engaged to Mr. Rushworth and it’ll violate the chastity of Julia, he finally succumb to Mary’s ideas due to eager protection of her, while Fanny persists in not acting and ask her cousin Edmund not to be involved in it.

With Fanny’s growth, his uncle holds first dance party for her after informed that she is good at dancing. Fanny rejoices and knows that she is respected by her uncle. Nevertheless, Edmund becomes depressed after he invites Mary to dance with him. Because Mary says that she’ll never dance with a clergy and this is the last time for them to dance together. Afterward, with a series of changes of Mansfield Park– the scandals about two daughters and elder brother Tom’s sufferance illness, Edmund doesn’t know there is no point in consulting with Mary about Henry and Maria’s scandal until he meets her in London. Meantime, he realizes with a sudden she is not the same as the person who lives in his mind. Instead, she doesn’t feel any shame of what her brother does and only scolds Fanny why she doesn’t marry him. All of her words just like a pin pricking in his heart. At last, he determines to marry Fanny who possesses kindness and merits and knows how to respect his dream. However, Fanny insists on her mind from beginning to end and does what she believes and not yields to others all the way.

3.2.2 Mr. Henry Crawford

In general, Henry is a man of wit, humor but a lack of merits, patience and feeling of accomplishment. His role is described more in four aspects: roles playing in script Love’s Vows, his marriage proposal, pay a visit to Fanny’s home and running away with Maria.

At first, in playing script, he is attracted by Maria’s good appearance and supports her to act his lover in a play without any consideration of her engagement. Meantime, his behavior is so frivolous in public with Maria that he leaves a bad impression on Fanny. After Maria marries Mr. Rushworth, he’d like to flirt with Fanny and makes a decision that he makes Fanny fall in love with him. On the contrary, finally, he is in love with her for her kindness and good manners. Nevertheless, Fanny doesn’t like his flirtation with Maria at all and refuses him for two times. According to the description of this novel, I think that only if Henry insists on his marriage proposal after he came to Fanny’s home specially to see her, Fanny will approve his courtship. But his rumor has already ruined his reputation, image of a gentleman and his status as a wealthy class. At the same time, he has no chance to pursue Fanny.

3.3 The reasons for the Creation of the Male Characters

In one hand, it’s clear that Edmund is the only person who has a great effect on heroine and forms her precious qualities: kind, warm-heart, insightful, elegant and other merits. In general, the role of Edmund is an indispensable and significant part which takes up rather important part of this novel. If there is a lack of it, it’s hard to find out what are Fanny’s merits and cannot stand out the heroine’s intelligence. In the other hand, with the development of the plot, what heroine does surpass over what hero does, not only from the part of acting on Lovers’ vows[ Fanny thinks that the play is not inappropriate and adhere to oppose it], but later her wit from her refusal of the rich Henry’s proposal. In other words, compared with Fanny, Edmund lose his correct direction and cannot wave away smog hidden real substance. The creation of Edmund paves a path for people to know Fanny’s specialties.

Mr. Henry Crawford, this character is just like a green leaf, whose function is to against the flower which symbolizes Fanny. Even if he is rich, which becomes an important condition whether an unmarried girl makes her mind to marry or not, Fanny still adheres to her principle and never be swayed by it.

3.4 Significance of the male Characters

The heroes, Edmund and Henry, both two contribute to the image of Fanny. One’s intelligence and insight climb down the ladder, and the other cannot stick to his promise-love Fanny forever. From the comparison between the male characters and heroine, it’s easy to see that females have their rights that they pursue their own loves and they make their own decisions. Meantime, females are not worse than males, for they have as equal rights as the males to acquire knowledge and stick to their belief and principle, rather than blind to the feudal ideas and feudal manners.

4. Conclusion

Two male characters, Edmund Bertram and Mr. Henry Crawford, are living and vivid. When they are still children, facing with the first arrival of little Fanny, Edmund not only gives a hand to her when she feels helpless, but also plays with her when she feels lonely. In the view of social values and life values, as to Fanny, Edmund is just like a light in a dark night and he teaches Fanny how to be a self-restraint, well-educated person. Meantime, educated by Edmund, Fanny has become a person who possesses the best qualities among children in Mansfield Park, who clearly knows what is right and wrong. All of these merits are shown through the development of novel. If the novel lacks the role Edmund, well-educated Fanny will not appear. In other words, the role of Edmund is indispensable, for he is a moon in a dark night, paving a road for Fanny.

Mr. Henry, who is fashionable and worldly rich man, later falls in love with Fanny. The appearance of him, derived from the need of this works, acts as a functional role, just like leaves to flowers, which makes Fanny’s merits stand out. His proposal hardly interrupts the association between Fanny and Edmund. Fortunately, Fanny see that Henry is not deserved to be trusted for she witnesses he flirts with Maria. At the same time, she persists in her love while Henry does not.

From above, these two roles are too important to be neglected. Their roles are the close relation to the heroine, Fanny.

What’s more, as to this novel, the two roles are necessary and crucial for the development of the story. The arrival of Henry and Edmund’s love (falls in love with Mary at first) both make the novel reach the climax step by step. In this climax, confronting with love, Fanny is consistent from beginning to end while what the two roles do distinguishes from her. This novel criticizes their behaviors. In other words, it appreciates Fanny’s unremitting spirits in the guide of intelligence, wit and courage.



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